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Setting sail

HPIM2159We are leaving England today, sailing west on the Queen Mary 2, homeward bound. The journey across the Atlantic will take seven days, and as internet access on the ship is prohibitively expensive, I’ve pre-written a week’s worth of posts and set them to magically appear on schedule. During the next week I will not be able to read or moderate comments (because I’m normally so good at that, you’ll really notice the difference–HA!), but I still appreciate you stopping by while I’m gone! I’ll get caught up as quickly as I can once we’ve docked.

See you on the other side of the pond!

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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A change in programming

storyadayaugWell, tomorrow starts a month of major transitions as the actual relocation from England to the US looms large. I know for sure I will not have internet access for at least a week during August, and am not certain how much time or energy I’ll have on the days when I do have a connection, so I wanted to be sure I ended July with a plan to keep posting every day. Thanks to WordPress’ feature that allows me to draft and schedule posts in advance, and a 31-day daily blogging challenge originally hosted in May by Jenni on Story of My LifeI’ve got August covered. I hope that I can find some time to throw in some fiction and/or photography posts during the month, but I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep, so we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, here’s the rundown of what you can expect to see in the next 31 days…

  • Day 1: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph… no one will be counting your words… probably)
  • Day 2: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you’d like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)
  • Day 3: Things that make you uncomfortable
  • Day 4: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it
  • Day 5: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don’t have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member
  • Day 6: If you couldn’t answer with your job, how would you answer the question, ‘what do you do’?
  • Day 7: The thing(s) you’re most afraid of
  • Day 8: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.
  • Day 9: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)
  • Day 10: Most embarrassing moment(s). Spill.
  • Day 11: Sell yourself in 10 words or less
  • Day 12: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life…)
  • Day 13: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.
  • Day 14: Ten things that make you really happy
  • Day 15: A day in the life (include photos from throughout your typical day – this could be “a photo an hour” if you’d like)
  • Day 16: Something difficult about your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it
  • Day 17: A favorite photo of yourself and why
  • Day 18: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.
  • Day 19: Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.
  • Day 20: Get real. Share something you’re struggling with right now.
  • Day 21: A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives.
  • Day 22: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel. (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off)
  • Day 23: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you
  • Day 24: Your top 3 worst traits
  • Day 25: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (good or bad)
  • Day 26: Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you’d like.
  • Day 27: A letter to your readers
  • Day 28: Only pictures
  • Day 29: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. Use Grooveshark or YouTube to include them in the post
  • Day 30: React to this term: Letting Go
  • Day 31: A vivid memory
 
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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

2013: The year of accomplishments

oxford sweatshirt

Today’s directive from The Daily Post: Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.

How can seven months of 2013 be in the books already? My parents always told me that the older I got, the faster time would fly. I didn’t understand the physics of that as a child, and I still don’t to this day, but they were right.

I’d have to say at this point in the year, my overall feeling is one of accomplishment and contentment. I have no regrets about things I should have done, there have been no huge disasters to contend with, there are no nagging worries keeping me awake at night.

  • I’m halfway to my goal of getting back to the weight on my driver’s license.
  • I’ve posted an entry on this blog–occasionally more than one–every single day in 2013.
  • I enrolled in, attended, and passed the three classes I had put on my to-do list for the year (I have one official transcript, one carved spoon, and one Oxford sweatshirt to prove it).
  • I perused, clipped, and recycled a monstrous two-year backlog of magazines.
  • I purged my file cabinet.
  • I refinished a small chest of drawers.
  • I travelled to Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Wales, in addition to two weekend getaways and countless day trips within England.
  • I played host to my mom and my friend from Japan during their respective visits, planning outings to give them a good taste of British life.
  • I crocheted an afghan.
  • I’ve read half a dozen books (not a lot by most people’s standards, but a record for me in the past 20 years or so).
  • I jumped through all the hoops to renew my teaching license.
  • I created two procedural manuals to leave behind for my replacements in the frame shop.
  • I’ve used up most of the food in my pantry and freezer pre-move–ten more days to use up a steak, three pork chops, two tilapia filets, a batch of taquitos, and some chicken tenderloins.

Life is good, and I expect the downhill side of 2013 to be just as rewarding as the first half has been. The hubby and I’ll soon be back in our old stomping grounds–back in our old house, hanging out with our old friends, swimming (me) and playing racquetball (him) at our old gym. I’m two weeks away from being back within a three-hour drive of 80% of my immediate family, and within a day’s drive of the in-laws. Some amazing new job is waiting for me in the States, and all I have to do is find it. The to-do list is still massive, but I’ve picked up some serious momentum in the last seven months, and see no reason (aside from the fact that most of the projects are packed and in transit for the next two months) that I can’t tick several more boxes before the ball drops in Times Square. 2013 is on its way to being the most satisfying, fulfilling year in the past decade!

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming…

HPIM2401The June Photo a Day Challenge hosted by Chantelle over at Fat Mum Slim was a nice break from my normal blogging routine. It was a good chance to get out there and take more photos, which was one of the two reasons I began this blog back in January (I only cheated and used archived pictures a couple times). But more importantly, it gave me a chance to devote more time to the online linguistics class I started on 28 May. I was totally stressed by the idea of reading all the course material, writing countless papers and discussion posts, and also maintaining a writing schedule for my blog. So now, here I am at the beginning of July, with one more week of class and just one final project to tackle. I feel fairly confident that I can manage that and the blog for seven days (but I still reserve the right to pull my hair out by the end of the week).

In case you’re new here, or it’s been so long since you’ve seen the regularly scheduled programming, let me give you a refresher. Every day I will post one of my own photos, preferably taken that day, or at least taken during the week. The only time I’ll use a photo that is not mine is if I am participating in a flash fiction photo challenge (like Friday Fictioneers), in which case proper credit is always given. Along with each photo, I include some type of writing, trying to stick to the following routine:

  • Monday–“Monday Mix”–Whatever I feel like writing about after the weekend cobwebs have cleared–could be fiction, non-fiction, a weather report, a recipe…who knows?
  • Tuesday–“Tuesday Tales”–A short work of fiction. So many places to look for inspiration–The Daily Post, Trifecta, and The One Minute Writer among others.
  • Wednesday–“What’s she on about?”–My chance to spew on a pet peeve or current event, or any other thing that takes my fancy.
  • Thursday–“Deep Thought Thursday”–As a way for readers to get to know me, I’ve been answering thought-provoking questions from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, but will soon include some reader-submitted queries as well.
  • Friday–“Flash Fiction”–This will be a short piece of fiction, most likely a response to the aforementioned Friday Fictioneers photo prompt.
  • Saturday–“Six-word Saturdays”–I sum up the week or my general state of mind in just six words. I’m considering changing this to “Saturday Shorts,” sort of a round-up of interesting thoughts and fun pictures from the week that weren’t weighty enough for their own posts.
  • Sunday–“Sunday Best”–I pick my favorite photography or writing prompt of the week, from one of the numerous challenge blogs I follow, and post an appropriate response.

I’ll warn you now, don’t get too comfortable with this programming schedule. There will be another hiccup in the schedule come August, as the hubby and I will be undertaking a trans-Atlantic household move. No worries, though. I’ve already got a month’s worth of “find out more about me” prompts, nicked from the May post-a-day challenge on Story of My Life. Once the movers have come and taken away all my other distractions, I’ll have two weeks to prepare my responses and line them up for auto-posting during August.

One last note. I began this blog using only one-word titles for every post. I borrowed this idea from the TV series The Good Wife. Every episode in Season 1 had a one-word title, every episode in Season 2 had a two-word title, and so on. I’ve decided that coming up with clever, relevant, “please read me” one-word titles for 365 blog posts is infinitely more taxing than doing the same for 23 television episodes, so 182 posts into this pattern, I quit. From now on, my titles will be as long as they need to be to tickle my fancy and/or pique your interest.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Weed?

102_1644Mystified by blooms in my garden

Shhh, don’t say anything out loud in case we jinx it, but it appears that spring might have finally sprung here in jolly old England! The April showers that started in 2012 and have pretty much continued unceasingly since, have finally cleared. This week has been a string of mostly sunny days, complete with temperatures in the 60s and bright blue skies, setting the stage for the legendary May flowers. This much anticipated meteorological blessing has caused an eruption of early (well that term is relative, since they are a full three weeks later than last year) bloomers in my garden (British English for flower beds), from daffodils (or are they narcissus–or is there even a difference?) to tulips to grape hyacinth. A couple shrubs have also begun to flower, including a sassy forsythia under the front window.

My trouble is, lots of weeds are also blooming. I can recognize the dandelions, whether in full yellow glory or just popping up, and the prickly sprouts of a new crop of thistles. The little daisies that are carpeting the back lawn are cute, but not supposed to be there. But what about the pretty pink flowering specimen in the picture above? It looks too fancy to be a weed, yet its position on the very edge of the flower border leads me to believe it was not planted intentionally by my landlords. Should it stay or should it go? There are many such mysteries in my garden, so I’ve adopted a very open-minded approach to weeding: One man’s weed is another man’s wildflower. If I like the looks of an unknown bloom and its accompanying leaves, it stays. If it looks, well, weedy, then it goes. I’m sure the passing neighbors alternate between, “Why is she digging that up?” and “Why on earth doesn’t she dig that up?” I figure if the landlords had been concerned with preserving their plantings during the lease period of the ignorant Americans, they should have either left me detailed sketches and instructions or a highly qualified gardener.

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Posts I commented on today (well, actually yesterday…this is a scheduled post while I’m antiquing in Wales):
A to Z is over. What next? 1, 2, 3…? (A few drops of ink)  new blog of the day
Friday Fiction–Star-Crossed (elmowrites)
Gramp’s Library (Embracing Life from a Writer’s Perch)

 

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Keukenhof

Today I am at Keukenhof Gardens in The Netherlands, expecting to see the crocuses, daffodils, and tulips promised in the online flower status report. As soon as I’m able, I’ll upload a photo and flash fiction story to this post…stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Jackass

100_8357Question 58*
A good friend pulls off a well-conceived practical joke that plays on one of your foibles and makes you look ridiculous. How would you react?

I like to think that I am able to enjoy a good joke, even one at my expense, so I hope that I would get past my initial embarrassment and be able to laugh it off. I’m assuming the prank would not be caught on video à la Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d–it would be a bit harder to forgive if my moment of humiliation were replayed at every future gathering. I’m sure it would sting a bit to be the victim of a practical joke at the hands of a trusted friend, but thinking of the friends I’ve got, none of them would stage the joke to be intentionally hurtful or malicious. Their intent might be to get me to take myself or a situation less seriously, but the predominant motivation would be just laughs. Besides, if I’m willing to temporarily look like a buffoon, then I expect to be able to give as good as I get–turn about is fair play, after all!

*From The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, PhD.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized